Climatic Change

, Volume 81, Issue 3–4, pp 283–312 | Cite as

Integrated assessment of changes in flooding probabilities due to climate change

  • Thomas KleinenEmail author
  • Gerhard Petschel-Held


An approach to considering changes in flooding probability in the integrated assessment of climate change is introduced. A reduced-form hydrological model for flood prediction and a downscaling approach suitable for integrated assessment modeling are presented. Based on these components, the fraction of world population living in river basins affected by changes in flooding probability in the course of climate change is determined. This is then used as a climate impact response function in order to derive emission corridors limiting the population affected. This approach illustrates the consideration of probabilistic impacts within the framework of the tolerable windows approach. Based on the change in global mean temperature, as calculated by the simple climate models used in integrated assessment, spatially resolved changes in climatic variables are determined using pattern scaling, while natural variability in these variables is considered using twentieth century deviations from the climatology. Driven by the spatially resolved climate change, the hydrological model then aggregates these changes to river basin scale. The hydrological model is subjected to a sensitivity analysis with regard to the water balance, and the uncertainty arising through the different projections of changes in mean climate by differing climate models is considered by presenting results based on different models. The results suggest that up to 20% of world population live in river basins that might inevitably be affected by increased flood events in the course of global warming, depending on the climate model used to estimate the regional distribution of changes in climate.


River Basin Streamflow Monthly Runoff Flooding Probability River Basin Scale 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental SciencesUniversity of East AngliaNorwichUK

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